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'US must have zero tolerance for Pak-based terror networks'
Aziz Haniffa in Washington, DC | October 26, 2006 21:03 IST
The Bush administration should have zero tolerance for Pakistan-based terrorist networks that carry out wanton terrorist acts in Afghanistan and India and should come down hard on Islamabad to crack down on these violent extremist groups, the Heritage Foundation -- a conservative Washington think tank with close links to the Republican leadership in Congress -- has said in a just-released report.
The report titled 'Denying Terrorists Safe Haven in Pakistan,' said that "Pakistan has traditionally relied on violent extremism to accomplish its strategic objectives in both Afghanistan and India," and noted that "the recent upsurge in Taliban attacks against coalition forces in Afghanistan and continuing links of global terrorist networks to groups based in Pakistan are leading many in the United States to question Islamabad's commitment to fighting the global war on terrorism."
"Washington should review Pakistani efforts to deny terrorists safe haven and its overall policy toward Pakistan, which is at the center of international anti-terrorism efforts," it said.
The report authored by Lisa Curtis, who till recently was a senior staffer on the powerful Senate Foreign Relations Committee and reporting directly to the panel's chairman Senator Richard Lugar, Indiana Republican, acknowledged that "Pakistan has made invaluable contributions to combating Al Qaeda over the past five years by capturing scores of key leaders and helping to foil numerous deadly plots."
"However, Islamabad will need to adopt a more comprehensive policy against violent extremism to fully deny groups and individuals the use of Pakistani territory as a base for global jihad," it said.
Curtis, currently a senior research fellow for South Asia in the Asian Studies Center at Heritage, said in her report that "Although President Pervez Musharraf has articulated his desire to turn Pakistan into a moderate and modern Islamic state, his government has taken little concrete action to make the country inhospitable for individuals and groups seeking to destabilise Afghanistan or India and plotting international acts of terrorism."
The report noted that the links "between those involved in the foiled London airliner bomb plot in mid-August and Pakistani terrorist groups that traditionally operate in Jammu and Kashmir demonstrate the dangers of not cracking down on violent extremism in Pakistan."
Consequently it called on the Bush administration to "press Islamabad to address the roots of violent extremism," even as Washington strengthens "its Pakistan policy to demonstrate US long-term commitment to the partnership."
The report said, "The US can accomplish this delicate balancing act by maintaining a robust assistance program that is visible to the Pakistani people, providing a consistent message to the government regarding the need to crack down on all violent extremism."
Also by "developing a more proactive policy supporting the restoration of democracy, fortifying US diplomatic efforts to facilitate peace between Pakistan and India, and encouraging economic integration among Pakistan, Afghanistan, and India so that each develops an interest in overall regional stability."